In developers 2012 rebuff of the original Need For Speed: Most Wanted, we see many elements incorporated from past titles in the franchise. From the most obvious original Need for Speed: Most Wanted, released in 2005 developed by EA Black Box, where as the new title (among the last few) has been developed by Criterion Games. With Criterion Games being a British developer, we see a lot of that rub off on some of the many customizable License Plates and Titles (Character Profile), which is mainly for online play. There are elements from Paradise, to Hot Pursuit as well as others, most notably is the Autolog feature, which although has been in the past Need for Speed titles, was never in the original Most Wanted. It is an excellent feature that compares you and your friends race times, rankings, gives you recommendation to either challenge a friend(s) or take on a friend that has challenged you in a specific event as well as event keeping track of your fastest speed in specific areas (roads, highways), among much more intricate details.
When it comes to the single player portion of the game, although very fun and using features from past titles, it seems like there is simply not that much to it. The entire game revolves around the Most Wanted vehicles which consist of 10, once you race them, beat them and take them down following the end of the race (as they do not want to hand over their car nicely), you then claim the vehicle. Do this 9 more times and you have finished the Need for Speed: Most Wanted campaign. Granted this is a racing game and there is still plenty more to do in the single player while on your way to finishing the campaign or afterwards it just seemed like there should be more to it. Now you cannot just race the most wanted vehicles right away as you will have to gain enough ‘Speed Points’ to unlock the races. Speed Points are gained by literally doing anything in the game, from wining (or just partaking in) races, driving through speed camera at high speeds, finding crash-able billboards and playing online will also give you speed points among many others thing. There are TONS of Milestones that can be completed that unlock Speed Points as well as sometime customizations. So gaining them is not all that difficult, in fact in can be quite fun obtaining them.
Criterion Games had a difficult time trying to live up to the expectations of the original Most Wanted title while not changing too many things to make it an entirely new game. For example where Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is one of my favorite titles, with one of the reasons being that with all the cop chases during races you could actually take down a competing vehicle in your race eliminating them from the race entirely which I loved. Of course that may not be so fair online, but I thought it to be a great aspect and bringing that to the new Most Wanted title may have risked messing with the original title, where so many fans had been waiting for this, with Most Wanted being many fans favorite title in the franchise.
As far as the rest of the vehicles being obtained in campaign, it simply came down to finding them parked in a non hidden area, which is not hard since when close enough you can see a giant manufacture logo of the vehicle above it. Just hop in the car from there and it is yours, while every area you find a new car is called a ‘Jackspot’ which serves as another way to try to escape the cops when in a chase as you can roll up to a Jackspot to switch vehicles which just SLIGHTLY reduces your ‘Heat Level’. The higher your Heat Level the more cops you have on you, the better vehicles they throw at you and the more road blocks they begin to put up. Most games, whether racing or not which have this same cop chase aspect, it seems there is always a way to escape the cops, whether it be shortcuts or other means, where as it is extremely difficult to get away from the cops in this game compared to other titles. You might evade them with luck most of the time where turning down side streets does not really benefit you for the most part. As your heat level increases, the cops will begin to lay down spike strips to blow out your tires making it even harder to evade them, however that is where your upgrades/mods come in as you can have re-inflatable tires as a mod, but are applied to each vehicle individually. So obtaining it for one vehicle is good, but it will only be that one vehicle you have it on until you meet the necessary requirements to get it on another vehicle.
There are a good amount of vehicles in the game aside from the 10 Most Wanted ones. With each vehicle comes a set of races specifically for that car (where you may also take part in a specific race with multiple vehicle, but not all of them). You have different events which range from standard races (checkpoint or lap) which on occasion may attract the cops, to Speed Runs where you will need to keep a high enough average speed throughout the course to place, and Ambushes where you start practically surrounded by cops having to evade them as quickly as possible to place. All of these races not only will give you Speed Points, but also unlock specific mods for your vehicle (depending on the race) where 1st, and 2nd place usually unlock a new mod for a specific car. To add to that there are also Pro Mods available for every mod you can get which increase the capability of that mod. You must unlock everything for a vehicle once obtained, even the standard nitrous. Mod unlocks range from different types of tires, chassis, transmissions, body and nitrous. When it comes to playing online, you must unlock all the mods for all the vehicles separately; even unlock the cars in a different manor (the best way is to complete as much of single player and play online a lot).
By far the best aspect of the game is the new feature they have added for game navigation which is called “Easy Drive” and the name is quite literal. Now you can always press start or select/back to view your map, driver details, settings, etc. however for the most part using Easy Drive will be what you become used to taking advantage most of the time whether it is retrying a race or customizing a car online or offline. By simply pressing right on the D-Pad, a mini menu opens at the top left of the screen (while this does not stop you from racing, driving or doing anything you would normally do in game, granted a little co-ordination is involved should you not be stationary and solely concentrating on the Easy Drive). The mini menu pops down, providing sub menus and options with in those, this come especially in handy when customizing a car. Easy Drive initially shows the options of picking Autolog Recommendations, Races (for your current vehicle), Customize Car, Change Car, Most Wanted Cars and Multiplayer. Multiplayer has a whole different set of option in the Easy Drive menu, but initially from single player you can either join a public game, create an open world friend game, or view your friends right from the Easy Drive menu.
Starting a friend game will automatically put you in an (open world) Free Drive session where you can invite your friends (however you cannot set it to public unfortunately as you must join in on a public game to play with others). You and your friends can take part in a whole number of events, make custom events or play already created ones. Unlike single player you can customize your paint job so long as you have unlocked the requirements to gain the paint job. (Single player simply picks a random color for your car and driving through gas stations through out the city will not only instantly repair your car but also change to a random color). The Easy Drive menu in multiplayer gives you the following initial options in the quick pull down menu: Change Car, Customize Car, Edit License Plate (unlock new plate backgrounds by achieving milestones), Friends, Speedlists, Make Invite Only, Go to Public Game, Players (in game), Leave Game. To get the best bang for your buck you will want to play online and hopefully have or make some friends with the game as, multiplayer is like a whole other game in itself with you having to unlock all the modes, paint and everything all over again for cars you use online. The requirements to unlock everything for the cars online are different from single player as well.
When it comes to online you can play a huge variety of events with your friend, with your friends and other players or just by yourself with other players, provided of course that you have an online pass, which comes with every new copy of the game (the Limited Edition; same price as the standard, giving instant access to 2 super cars online). You can setup up to 10 custom made Speed Lists, within each you can have up to 5 events where you can make car type restrictions from no restrictions, to Muscle Cars only, Sports Cars only, Everyday Cars only, Exotics only, Grand Tourers only, SUV’s only, or Race Cars only to even the playing field depending on the event type. From there you can create one of four different event types, which are Challenges, Races, Speedtests or Team Races. Challenges can consist of drifting, jumps, jump air speed to many different types. Races are self explanatory while Speedtests are similar to challenges where you can have jump contests to average speed runs to once again drifting contests as the list goes on. Team Races are fairly self explanatory as well, however a big difference with Need for Speed: Most Wanted and lets say Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is that you can take down cars but they will be back as soon as they re-spawn in single player as well. Criterion also has their own set of pre-made Speed Lists as well. Online you can also unlock up to 4 ‘Sweet Revenge’ perks, where you can steal your attacker’s rollout, gain extra damage protection for 20 seconds, gain limitless nitrous for 30 seconds and lastly get one touch take downs for 30 seconds. These are all balanced and do not give an unfair advantage as you only have the perks at certain times.
Overall Need for Speed: Most Wanted is a fun game with a lot to do, especially adding in the many speed lights you must find as well as the billboards to crash through and gates to find by crashing into them, while there are many more jackspots in the city then there are cars, so it can keep you quite busy. While this may not be my favorite title in the franchise, any fan of the games will enjoy this and it lends itself as a great remake of the original 2005 Need for Speed: Most Wanted. The game is available for nearly all platforms, including mobile phone, the PS Vita, the Wii-U (once released) and more.